report from the front – Forrest Proper

A muttering about ebay selling from a mad bookseller.

A few months ago I mentioned that we were going to be experimenting with selling some books that have been hanging around forever and are not in our specialties on Ebay. It’s been going pretty well- some have actually sold for more than I had them priced at in our catalogs, and almost all of them have at least recovered their cost, which was the point to begin with- to clear out dead stock.

We’ve come around to the belief that it’s best to start everything low, with no reserves, because reserves annoy people, and it seems to be better to get folks bidding than to try and start things at higher levels. The secret is to get people bidding, and a $9.99 starting price seems to do that. I had one book I started at $40, got no bids on, and then re-auctioned it starting at $9.99. The result was a bunch of bids, and a selling price of $40!

We’ve also been learning what type of material does well and what does not, which is important when you start things low with no reserves. So this week, in a further experiment, I actually bought some books at the local book auction with the intent of putting them up on Ebay. That is not at all the direction I saw this Ebay Project going in when we started- the point was to move stuff out, not bring stuff in, but hey, whatever sells books, right?

Besides, I’ve found that there is a certain drama and excitement to running the auctions- you watch the number of bidders and watchers grow as the week goes along, and then, with any luck, you have that final surge of bids at the end. It’s fun.

And because I know that you are all absolutely fascinated by my yammering on and on about our crap on Ebay, I’ve put a link on the right-hand nav. bar on our blog to our current auctions. I view that as a public service, because I know that you all need an 1850 print of a Zuni spring, or an 1837 book on beet sugar production in America, or the fashion print of the pretty young lady that started this entry.

Doesn’t everyone?

Forrest Proper @ Joslin Hall Fine Books

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